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Exercise of the Union's rights for the application and enforcement of international trade rules

European scrutiny

The WTO’s Appellate Body has been inquorate since December 2019 and unable to hear new cases. As the highest authority in the WTO’s enforcement system, the risk is now that WTO members could appeal the findings of a previous dispute settlement panel and, as the Appellate Body is unable to function, any such appeals would then go ‘into the void’. In practice, this would prevent enforcement measures from being carried out within the WTO framework. Under the previous EU regulations, the EU could only legally adopt countermeasures against a trading partner at the end of a dispute settlement procedure, having received specific authorisation from the WTO. The European Commission has now amended these regulations to enable it to trigger countermeasures without WTO authorisation. The Commission is also seeking to put in place multi-party interim dispute settlement arrangements, but so far only Norway and Canada have agreed to do so.

We wrote to the Minister on 24 January seeking answers to a number of questions. The Minister responded on 31 January and on 13 February we informed the Minister that the Committee continues to take an active interest in the enforcement regulation and related matters, and requested to be kept updated on key developments.